“There is a season… and a time for every purpose under heaven.” I remember listening to the song Turn! Turn! Turn! as a young child, riding in the back of the car, my parents driving and reminiscing as the radio station played “the oldies” that were the soundtrack of their youth.
What I didn’t know then was that while The Byrds sang the song (they were actually the third to sing it), and Pete Seeger who wrote the song added the words “Turn! Turn! Turn!” the rest of the lyrics were Holy Spirit breathed.
Flip or click open your Bible to Ecclesiastes (in the Old Testament) chapter 3, verses 1 through 8 and you’ll see those lyrics staring right back. Some of them in a different arrangement, but there they are, right in front of you. Written thousands of years ago.
Earlier this week I was listening to this song and one part stood out to me I hadn’t noticed before: “a time to gather stones together.”
We might read this verse and think the human author was trying to say “sometimes you need to get some rocks and be ready for war.” Maybe, but that idea doesn’t fit real well with the overall theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The overarching theme of the book, whose author is unknown (although many scholars believe it was King David’s son Solomon), is that the world is confusing, we can’t control it and all we can do is have a healthy fear of God, putting our faith wholly in Him.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look one more time at what “gathering stones together” might mean. In the Book of Joshua, after the nation of Israel has crossed the Jordan River (on dry ground) led by the Ark of the Covenant, God commands Joshua to have 12 of his men, each man representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel, take a stone “out of the midst of the Jordan.” (Joshua 4:3).
The purpose of the stones was remembrance.
God had brought Israel to safety. They and the ark had walked across the Jordan on dry ground, reminiscent of God parting the Red Sea 40 years earlier as the Hebrew people escaped slavery in Egypt.
For 40 years they had wandered, but God had sustained them. They had been unfaithful, falling into idolatry, but God had been faithful and His hand was (and still is) mighty.
The stones were to be a reminder to Israel and their children that God is faithful, no matter the season, no matter the circumstance.
”Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; “for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Joshua 4:21-24, NKJV
So if today you are at the beginning of a new season of life. Or perhaps you’re living in a season that has gone on longer than you’d like, remember who God is. Remember He is faithful. Remember His Hand is mighty. Remember that the “fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10). Remember that “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
There is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.